PRESIDENT Clinton is rallying both United States warships and
his own words as the administration makes its final preparations
for an expected invasion of Haiti.
The warships are the aircraft carriers USS America and USS
Eisenhower, which are now at sea loaded with Army helicopters and
troops intended as the initial muscle of an invasion force. The
words will form Clinton's television address to the nation tonight,
which is meant to calm a Congress restive about the impending
"I can't see risking one American life in Haiti," says Rep.
Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R) of California, expressing the
discontent many lawmakers currently feel.
There is still a chance that a US-led ouster of the Haitian
military regime can be avoided. Lawmakers briefed by the
administration on Tuesday indicated that much pressure was still
being brought to bear on Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras and his cohorts to
leave voluntarily, instead of at the point of the 10th Mountain
But there was no real indication that the Haitian junta would
finally crack after months of banging war drums, and in Capitol
Hill cloakrooms the talk was not of "if" but "when." One theory
is that an attack will take place around Oct. 4's new moon, when
the US military could take advantage of their night-vision
Some of the congressional discontent with Haiti policy is based
in the clashing roles of institutions. For years Congress and
presidents of both parties have differed over the meaning of the
War Powers Resolution of 1973, which requires timely congressional
approval when the executive branch puts US troops at risk.
Both House Speaker Thomas Foley (D) of Washington and Senate
majority leader George Mitchell (D) of Maine have urged Clinton to
ask for a vote of approval before invading, though Mr. Mitchell has
admitted that "no president in my lifetime" has concurred that
such a vote is a prerequisite for using US troops.
Some of the Capitol Hill discontent is pure partisanship.
Republicans are "gleeful" about Haiti, says the defense adviser
to one senior Democratic senator. The lurching manner in which Mr.
Clinton's Caribbean policies have developed have given them all
manner of opportunity to bash the White House.
And some of the opposition is simply opposition - lawmakers who
believe restoring ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power
is not enough of a US interest to endanger any US soldiers' lives.
After all, polls show that most US voters do not support a Haitian
In his speech tonight President Clinton will try to convince the
American people, and through them Congress, that US national
interests do justify the Haitian junta's ouster. …